August 2010

Strasburg needs Tommy John surgery

Rookie right-hander Stephen Strasburg has a significant tear in his ulnar collateral ligament and will likely undergo Tommy John surgery, the Nationals announced in a conference call on Friday.

Strasburg, who was originally placed on the disabled list because of a flexor strain in his right forearm, had an arthrogram performed on Thursday to determine if something is seriously wrong, and doctors found ligament damage in the elbow.

“He is going to go out and attack his rehab and get ready to pitch better than he has in the past,” general manager Mike Rizzo said.

Strasburg will seek a second opinion from Dr. Louis Yocum in Southern California before the Nationals make a final decision on surgery. But the club believes that surgery is necessary. Strasburg is expected to be 100 percent in between 12 and 18 months.

“We feel there is a significant tear and there is going to be Tommy John surgery,” Rizzo said. “Louis Yocum is one of the leading experts in this field. We are certainly going to listen to what he says, but I anticipate Stephen will have Tommy John surgery.”

The Nationals knew about the test results as early as Thursday afternoon, but Strasburg requested that the release of the news be delayed because he didn’t want to put a damper on the news conference introducing Bryce Harper — taken by the Nats No. 1 overall in this June’s First-Year Player Draft — to the media.

“We are going to take this news, persevere, move on and get our rotation intact,” Rizzo said. “It’s depressing, but I look at the brighter side. I look to Tommy John as a surgery that has great success.

“We have a big, powerful 23-year-old right-handed pitcher with power stuff. The success rate for guys coming back from Tommy John and retaining that stuff is very good. We saw two examples of it on the mound yesterday with Chris Carpenter and Jordan Zimmermann. We saw Tim Hudson come back from Tommy John surgery in Atlanta.”

According to a baseball source, Strasburg was devastated when told he may have Tommy John surgery. According to the source, Strasburg said, “What are you talking about? I feel fine. I feel nothing.”

Strasburg, who was not available for comment, hurt his forearm on Saturday in an 8-1 Nationals victory over the Phillies. With the Nats leading, 5-1, and one out in the fifth, Strasburg was facing Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown when — on a 1-1 pitch — he grimaced in pain and shook his right arm.

Strasburg then motioned for the Nationals’ trainer to come to the mound. Manager Jim Riggleman, pitching coach Steve McCatty and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz came out to see what was wrong with Strasburg, who wanted to stay in the game but left a few moments later.

On Sunday, Strasburg underwent an MRI on the forearm, and the team doctor didn’t like what he saw, so Strasburg had to wait until the swelling subsided before undergoing an arthrogram.

Almost immediately, Strasburg became the ace of the Nationals’ staff, going 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA in the first 12 starts of his career. He currently leads the Nationals in strikeouts with 92.

This marks the second time Strasburg has needed to be shut down because of an injury. On July 28, Strasburg was scratched from his start against the Braves after experiencing right shoulder stiffness during his warmups in the bullpen.

Instead, reliever Miguel Batista made the spot start for Washington and delivered a brilliant effort, throwing five scoreless innings in his first start of the season to help the Nationals shut out Braves, 3-0.

Strasburg, the No 1. overall pick in the 2009 Draft, was warming up just minutes before that game when McCatty and Kuntz noticed that something was wrong with the righty after eight pitches. Strasburg told McCatty that he was stiff but could pitch in the game.

Riggleman and Rizzo were informed of Strasburg’s arm issue, and Rizzo pulled the plug on Strasburg’s start. Strasburg was placed on the DL the next day.

Morgan suspended seven games

Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan received a seven-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for his inappropriate actions, which included intentionally throwing a baseball into the stands, during the Nationals’ 8-1 victory over the Phillies. The thrown ball struck a fan in the crowd. 

Morgan is appealing the suspension and is in the Nats’ lineup on Wednesday against the Cubs. Entering Wednesday’s action, Morgan was hitting .261 with 20 RBIs.

Listach would like to manage Cubs

Nationals third-base coach Pat Listach said he would like to manage the Cubs. According to published reports, Listach became a candidate for the job after Lou Piniella stepped down after Sunday’s game against the Braves. Mike Quade is currently the interim manager.

Listach managed in the Cubs’ Minor League system for four seasons, going 253-221. His best season was in 2008, when he guided Triple-A Iowa to an 83-59 record, and he is still respected by the organization.

“I would definitely like the job,” Listach said.  “But I have a job to do here in Washington. If that job is available, it would be a dream come true. When you bring  championship to that city and that team, it’s a big deal.

“It’s one of the elite jobs in baseball. When you start talking about the Cubs, Yankees Red Sox and Dodgers, that’s the elite of the elite. Just to be considered is an honor. It makes me feel good as a person that I’ve done the right things in this game that people would consider me” 

While in the Cubs Minor League system, Listach managed players such as Geovany Soto, Tyler Colvin and Carlos Marmol, who are currently in the big leagues.

“They had success in the Minor League level and they have been promoted and they have stuck,” Listach said.

Piniella is the reason Listach is with the Nationals. Piniella spoke to then-general manager Jim Bowden, who hired Listach as the team’s third-base coach because of that recommendation.

Listach understands there will be a lot of competition for the Cubs managerial job.

“I respect all the other managers who are in contention  — Ryan Sandberg, Mike Quade, Fredi Gonzalez and Bob Brenly. We have all heard the same names. I respect all those guys. They are good people. They want the job as well. I hope they keep Quade as manager.”    

Strasburg likely headed to disabled list

Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg is likely headed to the 15-day disabled list because of a strained flexor tendon in his right forearm, according to a baseball source.

The team may not make the move until Thursday, when he is scheduled to make his next start.

Strasburg hurt the forearm on Saturday in an 8-1 victory over the Phillies. With the Nationals leading, 5-1, with one out in the fifth, Strasburg was facing Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown. On a 1-1 pitch, Strasburg threw a ball, but was grimacing in pain after the pitch and shaking his right arm. 

Strasburg then motioned the trainer to come to the mound. Riggleman, pitching coach Steve McCatty and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz came to see what was wrong with Strasburg, who wanted to stay in the game, but left a few minutes later.

Strasburg threw 4 1/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits, striking out six batters and walking none. He threw 56 pitches, including 38 strikes.

It marked the second time Strasburg had to be shut down because of an injury. On July 28, Strasburg was scratched from his start against the Braves after experiencing shoulder stiffness during his warm-ups in the bullpen.

Instead, reliever Miguel Batista made the spot start for Washington. And he delivered with a brilliant effort, throwing five scoreless innings in his first start of the season as the Nationals shut out Braves, 3-0.

Strasburg, the No 1. overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, was warming up just minutes before the game when McCatty and Kuntz noticed that something was wrong with the righty after eight pitches. Strasburg told McCatty that he was stiff but could pitch in the game.

Riggleman and general manager Mike Rizzo were informed about Strasburg’s problem, with Rizzo pulling the plug on Strasburg’s start. Strasburg was placed on the disabled list the next day.

Harper to be introduced to media Thursday

The Nationals are scheduled to hold a press conference at Nationals Park on Thursday to introduce outfielder Bryce Harper to the local media.

Late Monday night, the Nationals agreed to terms with outfielder Bryce Harper, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. The two parties had until Monday at midnight ET to get a deal done.

Harper agreed to a five-year contract that is worth $9.9 million, which includes a $6.25 signing bonus. The deal is a new record for a position player signed out of the Draft. The previous record was held by Mark Teixeira, who received a $9.5 million, four-year Major League deal in 2001.

Strasburg leaves game with injury [Updated]

Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg left Saturday’s 8-1 victory over the Phillies with a strained flexor tendon in his right forearm.

General manger Mike Rizzo said Strasburg will undergo an MRI exam in Washington on Sunday and the team hopes to have the results the next day. Rizzo declined to say if Strasburg is finished for the season.

“You are always concerned when your pitcher leaves in a middle of a game, but we are going to see what the MRI says and we will react accordingly,” Rizzo said.

With the Nationals leading, 5-1, with one out in the fifth, Strasburg was facing Domonic Brown. On a 1-1 pitch, Strasburg threw a ball, but was grimacing in pain and shaking his right arm.

“It’s [too bad] that he got hurt. [Home plate umpire] Brian [O’Nora] said he heard something pop,” Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino said.

Strasburg then motioned the trainer to come to the mound. Manager Jim Riggleman, pitching coach Steve McCatty and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz came to the mound to see what was wrong with Strasburg, who wanted to stay in the game, but left a few minutes later.

Riggleman said he would have kept a veteran like Livan Hernandez in the game if he had asked to stay in, but not a rookie like Strasburg.

“[Strasburg] said I feel good. I don’t even feel anything. I want to keep pitching. We choose not to do that,” Riggleman said.

Strasburg threw 4 1/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits, striking out six batters and walking none. He threw 56 pitches, including 38 strikes.

“He was throwing the ball very well,” Riggleman said.  “You hate to see anybody show some signs that they are a little tender out there. Certainly with Stephen, we are going to be a little careful. We just hope for the best. He’s get looked at tomorrow and hopefully get good news.”

Right-hander Craig Stammen entered the game to finish off the inning. Stammen saw what was going on with Strasburg and figured that he would have to get in the game right away.

“I was the only one in the bullpen who actually saw him shake his arm,” Stammen said. “And I looked in the dugout. I said ‘Oh, oh, that might be me [coming into the game].’ I didn’t know if I was going to throw in the bullpen or go straight to the mound. I went straight to the mound. That’s what I did.

“The only question was, how many pitches I was going to throw. It was kind of awkward because everyone was waiting for the game to start and I was trying to get loose.”

It marks the second time Strasburg had to be shut down because of an injury. On July 28, Strasburg was scratched from his start against the Braves after experiencing shoulder stiffness during his warm ups in the bullpen.

Instead, reliever Miguel Batista made the spot start for Washington. And he delivered with a brilliant effort, throwing five scoreless innings in his first start of the season as the Nationals shut out Braves, 3-0.

Strasburg,  the No 1. overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, was warming up just minutes before the game when McCatty and Kuntz noticed that something was wrong with the righty after eight pitches. Strasburg told McCatty that he was stiff but could pitch in the game.

Riggleman and Rizzo were informed about Strasburg’s problem, with Rizzo pulling the plug on Strasburg’s start. Strasburg was placed on the disabled list the next day. He didn’t return to the mound until Aug. 10.

Harper not playing for Gulf Coast Nats

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, the  No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, will be introduced to the media during the team’s next homestand, but no specific date has been set.

After meeting with the media, Harper will work out with the Gulf Coast Nationals, but will not play in any of the reaming games with them. However, Harper will start playing in the Instructional League this fall.

“Contractually, he is not going to play in any games [in the Gulf Coast League],” general manager Mike Rizzo said.

Nationals sign Solis, Cole before deadline

The Nationals signed second-round Draft pick Sammy Solis and fourth-rounder A.J. Cole a few hours before the midnight ET deadline on Monday.

Solis agreed to terms on a $1 million bonus, while Cole received a $2 million bonus.

Solis, a left-handed pitcher, came back after missing nearly all of the 2009 season with a herniated disc in his back, an injury he suffered while lifting weights two years ago. The setback limited the 6-foot-5 lefty to two games that year.

Opting against surgery, he spent an entire summer rehabbing and getting back in shape at “Athletes Performance” in Arizona.

All of the hard work he did in getting back from that injury eventually paid off. Solis went 9-2 with a 3.42 ERA for the University of San Diego this season. He struck out 92 batters while walking 29 in 92 innings.

“We thought he was a top talent that should have gone higher and we paid him accordingly,” assistant general manager Roy Clark said. “We feel he has a chance to move very quickly and we are very happy to bring him to DC.” 

Solis was originally drafted by the D-backs in the 18th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, but instead chose to attend USD.

Cole, a right-hander, joins the Nationals after combining to go 12-1 and fanning 10.7 batters per nine innings during his junior and senior seasons at Oviedo (Fla.) High School. Cole earned All-American status from both AFLAC and Under Armour in 2009.

In the summer of 2007, Cole tossed four scoreless innings for Team USA’s Under-16 squad that went 6-0 during the World Youth Championships played in Venezuela.

“This is an intense young man. He has a good look about him,” said scouting director Kris Kline. “He profiles as a No. 2, front-line starter. He may be a closer down the road. But he is a starter for now.”

Nats, Cole agree to terms

Right-hander pitcher A.J. Cole agreed to terms on a $2 million bonus with Nationals on Monday night.

Cole joins the Nationals after combining to go 12-1 and fanning 10.7 batters per 9.0 innings during his junior and senior seasons at Oviedo (Fla) High School. Cole earned All-American status from both AFLAC and Under Armour in 2009.

In the summer of 2007, Cole tossed 4.0 scoreless innings for Team USA’s Under-16 squad that went 6-0 during the 2007 World Youth Championships played in Venezuela.

Nats agree to terms with Solis

Left-hander Sammy Solis agreed to terms on a $1 million bonus with the Nationals.

The 6-foot-5, 228-pound left-hander came back after missing nearly all of the 2009 season with a herniated disc in his back.

Solis suffered the injury while lifting weights two years ago, and it limited him to two games that year. Opting against surgery, he spent an entire summer rehabbing and getting back in shape at “Athletes Performance” in Arizona.

All of the hard work he did in getting back from that injury eventually paid off. Solis went 9-2 with a 3.42 ERA for the University of San Diego this season. He struck out 92 batters and walking 29 in 92 innings.

Solis was originally drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 18th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, but instead chose to attend USD.

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